Reuven Frank heads NBC

One of TV's most respected newsmen is back at the helm of NBC News.

Reuven Frank has returned to the post of president of NBC News, a position he held from 1968 through 1973, during which time he inaugurated the historic ''Huntley-Brinkley Report.'' During the past few years he has been senior executive producer in the NBC News Special Programs, where in 1980 he produced one of the most notable documentaries of recent years, ''If Japan Can . . . Why Can't We?'' For five years he produced NBC's prime-time magazine show, ''Weekend.''

I called Mr. Frank to welcome him back and he assured me that, despite rumors to the contrary, he is not an interim president.

How does he feel about the Roger Mudd-Tom Brokaw co-anchorship, due to take over ''NBC Nightly News'' next month?

''I know them both and they are both fine, highly professional, skilled, experienced newsmen, even occasionally witty. They should do fine.''

How about the ''Today'' show?

''It looks all right to me. I have to talk to those people. After all, I have just been in this job for about an hour. It's not the show that it used to be but then . . . there's a constantly changing dynamic. The glow of nostalgia gets you nowhere.''

Would Brinkley have been allowed to depart NBC if Frank had been at the helm?

''All I can say is that I'm sorry he is gone.''

Will Mr. Frank be battling for a full hour nightly news?

''Certainly. It would be a genuine service and a great thing for broadcasting.''

How does he feel about the ''Roone Arledge Syndrome'' in network news - a concentration on electronic tricks and flashy graphics?

''I believe Roone Arledge (president of ABC News) has been a healthy influence on this business. That does not mean that everything he does works or that everything he does should be emulated. But he has moved some fresh air into the place and forced us to look at ourselves. That's good.

''I have no objection to enhancement devices. But you can't enhance something that isn't there. So basically NBC News will remain committed to news.

''But sometimes I wonder how many people out there feel manipulated by all that glitz.''

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